Can your gut bacteria affect your heart health?

A team of WA researchers have found evidence that your gut might have more of an impact on your heart than you may have thought.

Girish DwivediThe study led by Professor Girish Dwivedi from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, as well as researchers from UWA and Curtin University reviewed evidence from a number of studies and uncovered a link between heart failure and gut microbiome imbalance.

Microscopic organisms that live inside your intestines are referred to as the gut microbiome, and while these organisms can include viruses, fungi and other tiny living things – the bacteria in your gut are the most commonly investigated.

Studies have found that there are more bacterial cells in your body than human cells, roughly 40 trillion to the 30 trillion human cells you’re made up of – arguably making people more bacteria than human!

Dr Natalie Ward, said the team looked at differences in gut composition between healthy people and those with heart problems.

“This complex community of microbiota cohabitate in your gut to break down food and help maintain your health but changes in the composition and diversity of this microbiome has been linked to a number of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, and heart failure,” Dr Ward said.

“We are trying to determine if the composition of your gut impacts the health of your heart and also how drugs for heart disease impact the gut microbiome and whether this impacts clinical outcomes.”

Researcher, Adilah Ahmad Hari Thas, said the study looked to pinpoint how these microorganisms differed between healthy people and those with cardiovascular disease.

“We wanted to know whether the make-up and ratio of the gut microbiome is affected by cardiovascular disease and whether the use of prebiotics and probiotics could be used as a potential therapy,” Ms Hari Thas said.

“Use of prebiotic or probiotic treatments to minimise the impact of gut dysbiosis (imbalance) on heart health could become a mainstream therapeutic option, in addition to prescribed treatments, that is both low cost and widely accepted,” Dr Ward added.

The team is now planning further research to define the microbiota present in typically healthy individuals compared with those who experience heart problems, to determine which bacteria promote heart healing and hopefully help in developing a treatment to boost your heart health.

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